Composer Portrait: Isabella Carucci


“A live performance is so magical – it gives audiences a safe space for digesting emotions and grief, inspiring empathy and motivation.”

17-year-old flutist, composer and Face the Music member Isabella Carucci shares her composition process, her inspiration for writing music, and what she hopes we’ll take away from her new piece, which will be premiered by Special Music School High School junior and fellow Face the Music member Oriana Hawley at an online performance in December. A senior at LaGuardia High School who hopes to be a professional musician, Isabella studies songwriting and composition with KMC’s Adrianna Mateo and Murat Çolak and is the principal flutist of Face the Music’s chamber orchestra, the InterSchool Orchestra Symphony and All-City High School Orchestra.

What is it like to be a member of Face the Music?
Face the Music is essentially a group of musicians that feel their happiest sitting at the edge of an uncomfortable performance chair, surrounded by the magical silence that comes just after a piece has made its debut with the composer sitting in the front row of the audience – or performing, too.

Describe your new piece that will be premiered in December. What inspired it?
The intense attention to everyday, seemingly monotonous nature and people in Virginia Woolf's “Kew Gardens” inspired this piece. This piece describes the chaotic power of anxiety and shows that close observation of confusion and fear reveals hidden organization. The versatility in dynamics, tone, and articulation (among many other wonderful qualities) of the viola allows for a clear juxtaposition of structure and disorder in the piece. My hope is that this piece communicates its main message persuasively! 

What inspires you to compose?
I am usually inspired by what I read and listen to, whether it be the news or “3121” by Prince.

What is your composition process like?
When asked about my composition process, I can clearly hear the wise words of my composition teacher, Mr. Murat Çolak, explaining to me that I need to work first on a graph paper, measure by measure, section by section, finishing the composition in theory BEFORE writing any notes. I plead the fifth – I'll leave my answer as such.

Do you have any favorite composers?
My favorite composers include Ligeti, Julius Eastman, Meredith Monk and Percy Grainger – Prince is my absolute favorite, though. 

What is it like to see your piece performed by an actual musician after experiencing it via computer?
Oriana Hawley is an amazing violist – her range of tone colors and technical prowess is astounding. A live performance is so magical – it gives audiences a safe space for digesting emotions and grief, inspiring empathy and motivation.

What are you passionate about aside from music?
I am the president of the LaGuardia Math Team! I love math and physics because focusing on some of the most fundamental questions about the physical universe engages me.

Face the Music invites musicians age 12-18 to join in January. Schedule an audition today! 

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